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Domitian, the Forgotten Son

Contributed by David Verne

Vespasian's younger son, Domitian, has been ignored almost completely by his father. Vespasian spent the time to groom Titus for command, while leaving Domitian at home. When Domitian was six, his mother and sister died, and he went to live with his uncle. Vespasian ensured he got a quality education but seemed to not care about him. As Domitian grew older, he spent more time reading in solitude, which was seen as incredibly Un-Roman. He was 18 and living in Rome when the chaos of 69 A.D. engulfed the Empire. His opinion on politics was influenced by witnessing Nero's final days of madness and the Senate's willingness to declare loyalty to whoever had the largest army.

During Vespasian's reign, he has been relegated to a ceremonial role, and during the Triumph celebrated by Vespasian and Titus for their victory of the Jews, Domitian was placed in the back with distant family members. Domitian tried to gain any sort of political or military appointment, but only gained the appointment of the ceremonial role of the Emperor's representative to the Senate. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Vespasian probably continued ignoring Domitian, since he believed his line was secure through Titus. Titus did make an attempt to include his brother in public office, since he wasn't married and had no heirs. Domitian's experiences with the Senate were enough to convince him that they were a useless speed bump in managing the Empire. He didn't agree with the Imperial policy up to this point of making a show of asking the Senate before issuing edicts or declaring wars.

See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (November 22, 2009). The Forgotten Son.

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